Billy Ira Kirkus, 89, passed away on February 3, 2020, at his home in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Bill was born May 30,1930, in Milstead, Georgia, to William Ira Kirkus and Mattie Sue Rooks Kirkus. He attended the old Milstead school where there was a theater upstairs run by Mrs. Clay (to see a movie was a nickel) and Conyers High School which was the Main Street School. He enjoyed his childhood.
In the spring of 1948, Bill saw a sign that said, "Join the Navy and See the World." He joined the Navy on April 9,1948, not quite being 18 years old. He told the Navy that he was a "swim-out swimmer." When asked what he meant, he explained that he had learned to swim immediately after being thrown into the local water hole by his friends! He trained under Chief McGinnis and described him as "the meanest man you've ever seen!" Chief McGinnis said to the recruits, "All right, you knuckleheads, this is the end of the line. You've been on vacation, but your vacation is over. I'm going to make men out of you or kill you. I've never lost a man yet!"
After training, Bill served aboard the USS Dixie from August 1948 until January 1950, where he trained to be a baker. He then became the ship's only baker onboard the USS Orleck until his discharge in 1952. During Bill's time on the USS Orleck, since he baked at night and slept in the early morning, he was often found on the Bridge during the day. He would spend many hours looking through the binoculars as they patrolled the shore of North Korea. He discovered an ammunition dump that was subsequently blown up by his ship, news of which made it into the newspapers back home. The USS Orleck was the last American ship to leave Tsingtao, China when Chiang Kai-shek and the Chinese Nationalists were exiled to Taiwan, and the communists took over mainland China.
Bill was discharged in March 1952. He returned to his home in Conyers, Georgia, where he met the prettiest girl he had ever seen, his sweet Sara. They were married in their little hometown on September 27,1952. That marriage would become the greatest blessing in his life. Bill worked for a short time for the CocaCola Company and then went to work for Atlanta Gas Light Company, where he would spend the next 38 years.
A sweet baby girl, Gwen, joined the family the next year. They were living in Atlanta on Alder Court in a little home that they would scrub, clean, and fix up to a beautiful little cottage. Another daughter, Judy, joined the family in 1956. Mom and Dad went to the Fox Theater to see June Carter, where the warm-up singer was Elvis Presley!
They moved back to Conyers, Georgia, and built a home there where they welcomed a beautiful third daughter, Debbie.
Mom and Dad moved to different homes throughout their lives, always remodeling and improving. They won awards for their lovely yards. There was never a time that they were not seen together working hard and working together. Their anniversary was the most important date for them, and they always had a glorious celebration. They rarely spent a night apart in 63 years of marriage. When you saw one, you saw them both. In 1977, they were baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and their marriage was solemnized in the Washington, DC Temple one year later.
Bill is survived by his loving daughters, Gwen (Mark) Seguin of Alpharetta, Georgia; Judy (Chuck) Shipp of Idaho Falls, Idaho; and Debbie (Andy) Shipp of Conyers, Georgia; 10 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Sara Cornelia Johnson Kirkus, his parents, and a sister.
He was under the care of Candace Morgan, Tracy Keiley, Encompass Home Health, and his loving family.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, February 22, 2020, at Wood Funeral Home East Side, 963 South Ammon Road, with Bishop Matthew Anderson of the Ammon 33rd Ward officiating. The family will visit with friends Saturday morning from 9:30 -10:45 a.m. prior to services at the funeral home. Burial will be in the Ammon Cemetery.
Military Rites will be performed by the Bonneville County Veterans Memorial Team and Idaho Navy Honor Guard.
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